Wil Wheaton Looks Back on ‘Big Bang Theory’ and Weighs In on ‘Young Sheldon’ & ‘Family Guy’
Unless he pops up in The Big Bang Theory series finale (which is possible, but the last script is, naturally, being kept under wraps), Wil Wheaton has made his last appearance on the beloved hit CBS sitcom.
The actor started making guest appearances on the show in Season 3 as a version of himself, set up to be a nemesis of Star Trek-devotee Sheldon Cooper (Emmy-winner Jim Parsons).
TV Insider recently caught up with Wheaton, who shared how he came to be cast on the iconic sitcom and how the “Wil Wheaton” in TBBT universe differs from the real person. Might he ever pop up on Young Sheldon or Star Trek: Discovery? And how does he feel about his name by mispronounced by Stewie Griffin (Seth MacFarlane) on Family Guy?
Wheaton took time to answer these and other burning questions below!
You came onto Big Bang in Season 3. The show was an established hit by then, but what concerns, if any, did you have about playing yourself — or a version of yourself.
Wil Wheaton: The first choice that I made as an actor was that the version of Wil Wheaton, who appears in TBBT universe, isn’t married, which immediately took me out of my head and my comfort zone to where I could think [of me] as a different character. He is who I would be if I’d never met my wife.
The show set up a rivalry between Sheldon and you by revealing Sheldon never forgave you for not attending ’95 Dixie Trek Convention in Jackson, Mississippi. We learned later that “you” skipped it to do Hollywood Squares. Compounding things later, Wil told a lie that his grandmother had died.
When we started to transition from that Wil Wheaton from being a villain to ally and part of the “friend” group, he started to become more like who I am. That was an adjustment. First, I had to adjust to being a villain to, basically, being myself. It took me about ten years, but I could finally make that separation and be comfortable about being a heightened version of myself.
If Young Sheldon stays on the air long enough to the point where Sheldon wanted to meet you at that convention, could you possible do a guest spot — or voiceover?
I [actually] lived in Houston from 1974 to 1977. I mostly remember fire ants and thunderstorms. I’m asked all the time about if I’d go and recreate that moment for Young Sheldon – where he went to a sci-fi con and Wil wasn’t there, but my answer is: Wil didn’t show up!
Sure, but we could see what Wil was doing — a guest spot on Hollywood Squares! Paging Tom Bergeron!
They could do that, but they’d have to do a fair amount of age reduction!
What has being a part of Big Bang mythos meant to you and your career?
Gosh, it has meant so much. It’s been such an incredible gift to work with these magnificent actors, this phenomenal writing staff, and just the most amazing and professional crew with which I’ve ever worked. We could spend our entire careers hoping to have one experience like I have working on TBBT. I’ve gotten to have that also with Star Trek: The Next Generation and Leverage and Eureka and The Guild. I am really grateful that I’ve gotten to do good work that the audience loves with people that I love. I’m really proud to have that in my legacy.
Another show that you’ve been a unique part of is Family Guy. The cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation appeared on the show and also, Brian (Seth MacFarlane) gets annoyed by Stewie, who appears to be unaware he pronounces your name as “‘Whil’ Wheaton.” Thoughts?
It’s great. Seth MacFarlane [Family Guy’s creator] emailed me and said they were thinking about doing an episode in which Stewie brings on the cast of Next Generation. When you do animation, it’s very common to do scenes that get cut out, but I knew [Stewie saying “‘Whil’ Wheaton”] would make it because it’s a callback and that show is all about callbacks. A few nights ago, my wife and I were at a pet store. I was wearing a hat and glasses. The woman who was helping my wife check out [saw her name] and said, “Oh, your name is ‘Ann Wheaton.’ Have you heard the ‘Whil Wheaton’ bit from Family Guy? It’s so funny!” And I was standing right there and she had no idea!
If Star Trek: Discovery were to reach out to you and say there were able to work Wesley Crusher into an episode somehow — similar to Leonard Nimoy reprising Spock in the 2009 film Star Trek — would you be up for that?
I would do everything I can to say yes if they asked me back!
The Big Bang Theory, Thursdays, 8/7c, CBS